Dangriga, Wednesday February 17th, 2016
What are the chances of going from an average 2 – 3 feet unkempt area consisting of wild onions, thorns and other shrubbery to a full-fledged beach in just a matter of one month? You would probably believe that story if you would personally witness the hard work involved. As people, we often sit and see the potential of some great things and perhaps think about it; however that’s where it all ends – as a thought. That was not the case with private citizen Clarence Sarawl. He needed somewhere to swim and “chillax” as he put it, but couldn’t find an appropriate place to do so.
He thought about it, picked up a machete, a hoe and a rake and proceeded to clear a 10 by 10 chill spot space for himself. Little did he know, that thought would quickly be transformed from a 10 by 10 space to a full scale task of creating and building a beach.With community involvement and assistance, the Dangriga Wahima Beach Restoration Project under the auspices of the Brothers and Sisters Keepers Organization was born. Wahima Beach, is now a community empowerment initiative in partnership with the Dangriga Town Council. The initiative burned like a wild pine ridge fire. Two newly formed organizations have now taken on the task of doing their own beach cleaning, one on the Northside and the other on the Southside of Dangriga.
Clarence Joseph Castillo who now prefers to be called Sarawl (meaning awaken in Garifuna) returned home in 2011 with several nonprofit initiatives on his mind. The one that burned brighter was to have the beach, a stone’s throw from his old Dangriga neighborhood, revitalized. He told the Guardian, "It was my intent to have this area serve as recreational grounds for both children and adults and it seems to be doing that and more." Wahima beach is located on the northernmost end of Front Street. Sarawl and his band of volunteers consisting of several Grigalizeans, American and Canadian ex patriots and Belizean-American retirees could be seen daily with their garden tools, hard at work maintaining the beach.
The Honorable Frank “Papa” Mena was one of the first community leaders along with several Dangriga town councilors who embraced the idea of getting the beach to where it is today. Challenging the back breaking work and bearing the heat of the blazing sun, they all came together and assisted with the uprooting of the stubborn wild onion plants. “We need more people like this in our community, freely giving of themselves. Together we sow, together we reap,” said the honorable Mena. Meanwhile, the kind words of encouragement is not what moves Sarawl, he says “This is not about me. This is about my community and I want to thank all who have helped and continues to help me realize this vision of a world class beach in our town. The struggle continues but I will not waiver. I call on Belizeans and Grigalizeans home and abroad to lend their support to this effort.”